A/N: Please read Hoyle Act 2's epilogue before this, if you haven't already. Thank you.
"My dear… I am not long for this world any longer."
"It has been a long and wonderful life, but if you go, I will follow soon after. I cannot live without you."
"Then, let's meet again…"
Alfred jolted awake. He had fallen asleep over the large books that Yao had provided them sometime during the early morning. It was now nearly nine. Stretching, he felt his neck and lower back seize up from having slept in an awkward angle. He didn't remember when he had fallen asleep, but it was when the sun had just turned the sky pink. Inwardly he cursed for having fallen asleep at all.
"Fuck… This is all so confusing…" Alfred glanced at the keys on the table that Yao had left him. He had yet to use them. "I hope this helps."
He got up. His legs protested at first, but then were grateful for the movement. The keys were for the Portrait Room, an old, unused room that housed paintings and photographs from previous royal families. Alfred had only seen a handful of them in his textbooks. Reproductions of some were on display in various museums around Spades and Hoyle. Alfred couldn't recall any of the portraits ever being very important; at least none that could help in his case to save Arthur.
Thinking about his lover made Alfred walk quicker to the room in the far corner of the library. He only hoped it didn't have the same odd feeling as what lingered on him once he left the Scrolls Room. Since that incident, Alfred had yet to experience anything like it. Frankly, he was quite grateful for that. Ghosts were never something he could handle. Even thinking about them made him anxious. However, a familiar English voice chimed in his ear that it was silly to be afraid of such a ridiculous thing.
"Do it for Arthur," Alfred told himself.
Arthur jolted awake. Yao stood on the other side of the bars with a grim expression. There was, however, a mysterious light to his eyes.
"Good morning," Yao said quietly. "The trial will be in an hour. Follow my servant to be washed and fed."
Arthur watched Yao leave. His head throbbed in pain and his body ached from having slept in an awkward angle on a thin mattress. His body felt cold all the way to his bones. It had not been a warm or even a cool night. He was lucky not to have contracted some illness like pneumonia.
"Come with me," said the short servant. He wore a black hat over his blond hair. Arthur faintly recalled seeing him by Yao's side frequently these past few months, but never remembered much else about him.
He heaved himself up off of the bed. His body complained painfully. The servant watched as Arthur tried to smooth down the wrinkles on his clothes. It was no use. It was obvious he had slept in his clothes.
Together, the servant and Arthur made their way down near the kitchens until they stopped at a room. It wasn't glamorous and didn't stand apart from the other doors nearby. Arthur would've normally breezed right past it on any other given day. Inside, the room was nearly bare bones as it had just a simple bed, a small chest of drawers, a ratty rug, and a door off to the side that led to, presumably, a bathroom.
"Through there is the water closet and bathroom," the servant said, nodding to the other door. Arthur noticed he had a rather young, English voice. "You may bathe in there. The Jack has sent for an outfit of yours to be delivered so you may change into that afterwards. When you are done, there will be breakfast."
"Why is the Jack doing this?" Arthur asked referring to the meal and a chance to cleanse himself of the dungeon smell. "I thought for sure he'd want me to look horrid for today's trial."
The servant smiled. "Maybe he's not so bad after all."
Arthur chose not to reply to that. Instead, he moved towards the bathroom, eager for a wash.
Yao jolted out of his daydream, having dozed off while waiting in his chair. He acknowledged every one of the Parliament members. Before Arthur's trial, they would have to attend to matters of state first. Then, Yao would alert Parliament to Arthur's acts, labeling it as treason so it would have to start right away. Such issues were pushed to the front much quicker than a normal state trial would.
Yao truly wasn't interested in anything else today other than the trial. The feelings from last night's confrontation with Alfred were starting to grow numb after the initial strike. Although there were still conflicting feelings that pained him if he mulled over it for too long, he knew the trial would take his mind off of everything.
The Clock Room was the meeting grounds for Parliament. Inside, it was a wooden, tiered room with the Jack at the top, and the customary spots for the King and Queen flanking his sides. These were usually empty. The tiers below were the Lords and Ladies arranged by their property size. On the floor was seating for the press and official recorders as well as the Treasurer, guards, and normally empty seats for citizens that wished to sit in. A podium was in the center of the room for trial matters.
Finally, it came time to Yao to make his announcement. He stood. "Members of Parliament, it has come to my attention that treason has been committed."
The room rumbled with murmurs. "I move to begin a trial against the offender!" someone yelled.
"I second it!" another person exclaimed.
"Who is it?" someone else shouted.
Yao resisted a smile. "The Duke of Blue, Arthur Kirkland."
Now, Parliament exploded. Angry shouts and accusations were flung at other Lords and Ladies, mainly at the Lord Blue for being behind the act. The Lord Blue tried to explain he had no part in any of it. It was amazing considering not one member even knew what the act was.
Yao had to yell over everyone in order to settle them down again. Slowly, they began to quiet down. "Bring in the Duke."
The soldier from last night opened the door. Arthur was standing beside the short servant as he walked down the aisle, stopping before the podium. He held his head high despite being in handcuffs and slightly pale with dark marks around his eyes. Once he stood at the center, the guard stood on his other side. Arthur looked up at Yao with venom in his eyes.
"Duke of Blue, Arthur Kirkland, you stand on trial for treason," Yao said. His voice boomed in the still room. "How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," Arthur replied. His voice sounded smaller than Yao's.
"In cases where someone of the royal family accuses someone of treason, the offender does not receive a lawyer. In these cases you must defend yourself and rely on Parliament to help back you up." Arthur remained silent. "Is it true you and King have been involved in sexual activities?"
"Yes." Parliament seemed to move as a group in disapproval.
"Did you force the King at any of these times?"
"How long ago did this start?"
Arthur hesitated. He seemed to be thinking about when exactly it had started. "Nearly six months ago, before the King's birthday."
"How many times would you say you two had become intimate?"
Arthur's face burned, and he glared at Yao menacingly. Then, he grumbled, "That is none of your business."
"I believe it is."
"Sire, please," a Lady asked looking obviously annoyed. "Ask another question."
Yao nodded. "Of course. Duke Kirkland, did you force your agenda on the King?"
"What? No!" Arthur seemed insulted by the question, almost more so than the previous one. He struggled against the handcuffs, but settled down when the soldier stared at him. "I would never force anything on Alfr- our King."
There were murmurs around the room. The Lady Aqua stood up. "Sir Jack, do you have any evidence to back up your claims?"
Yao nodded at the soldier. The man left Arthur's side and headed to the front door. "Yesterday I caught the King and the Duke in the middle of some very personal affairs. I have collected the beanbag chair from the King's Game Room which has stains from their semen on it."
The soldier returned to the room carrying the mentioned beanbag with white stains on it. Arthur's face flared red, and he had to duck his head. Members of Parliament talked louder and faster at seeing it. Yao couldn't help but smirk at finally bringing Arthur to justice.
"How do we know that is theirs?" a Lord asked.
Yao held up a piece of paper from his table. "These are the lab results from a forensic lab that I had check the semen overnight." Yao grew irritated by the cross-examinations. He had counted on everyone to jump at the chance to back him up. "Ladies and Lords of Parliament, hear me out. My accusations are not sudden. I have witnessed as the King grew more and more irritated with the Duke. I even have here a letter he sent to the Duke to dismiss him. Still, Duke Kirkland pushed himself onto our young King. We can all agree that the King is very inept in the ways of our government."
"But the King has started to take an interest in politics," a Lord spoke up.
"Only after he began relations with the Duke," Yao replied curtly.
"How do we know that for certain?" a Lord asked. "Much of this seems to be accusations."
"If we look at the timeline of the Duke and the King's friendship, they met in the spring where their initial meeting resulted in the King barring the Duke from his birthday. Then, the King suddenly creates a charity event, all headed by the Duke of Blue in his area of Blue. Shortly after that, the King sends the Duke a letter telling him to leave him alone. And, if we are to go by the Duke's word just now of them starting intimate relations before the King's birthday, that means that despite the King dismissing Duke Kirkland, they have had several sexual encounters."
By now Parliament seemed more convinced. Arthur looked to them with growing dread appearing on his face. Yao couldn't help but feel victorious. Now he was going to go in for the kill.
"You all forget that, by law, if the King wishes to begin relations with anyone, he must seek approval with Parliament," Yao said. He looked to Arthur. The Duke seemed caught off guard by this; he didn't know. Yao grinned smugly. "Furthermore, the person in question must be of royal descent. Duke Kirkland, did you not look into your family's genealogy?"
"Y-yes…," Arthur stuttered.
"Did you find any traces of royal blood in your line?"
Here, Arthur hesitated. He stared at Yao challengingly, and then dropped his head. "…No, I did not."
There was talking in the room again. Yao straightened his back and puffed out his chest. Even if some of the Lords and Ladies still weren't convinced as to the treason claim, the law was quite clear. And Arthur knew he had broken it.
However, he wasn't going down without a fight.
"But that was only because you tore out the pages!" Arthur suddenly shouted, pointing at Yao. "You have committed crimes too, and yet you don't take responsibility for them!"
"Silence!" Yao yelled.
"No! If there is one thing the King has taught me, it is faith in our government to do what's right! Alfred always defended you! He trusts you! How dare you go behind his back like that?!"
"You still broke the law!" Yao could feel eyes on him. A sliver of guilt wormed its way into his strong mental defense against Arthur and all of those conflicting feelings. He, too, would not go down without a fight.
"Because we're in love!" Arthur's words reverberated around the room. Many Lords and Ladies were shocked into silence, but none more than Yao. The Jack took a small step back as if Arthur's words had struck a physical blow to him. "Yes, finally our young King has fallen in love. And yet, you want to take that away from him. He has so little left in the way of trust in people. Why would you do that?"
"You still broke the law. You must be held accountable," Yao tried weakly.
"Yes, I did not seek our permission, and I am not royal blood. Of that, I am guilty." Arthur inhaled, puffing his chest out. Yao felt his own deflate. In that moment, Arthur truly looked regal. "However, don't you dare demean our relationship to something that is forced. That man is a man. He is not a boy. You all should stop treating him as such! He is a very deep and sensitive and compassionate man who wants to help this country become something great! He wants to make his late parents and brother proud. He wants to make you proud, Jack Yao. And I am glad he is my King. He will be great, if you'd just let him have the chance. The King has taught me so much, and I didn't even know I was missing it!"
Yao was quiet. Even though Arthur was the only one looking at Yao, it felt like all eyes in the room were trained on the Jack. There was evidence against Arthur, he was handcuffed, made to look like a traitor before all of Parliament, and he had admitted to breaking the law. And yet, Arthur remained firm in his love. He stood proudly before Parliament, seemingly unharmed by the trial. As much as Yao despised the Duke, he was impressed, and even respected him a little.
"Regardless… You must take responsibility," Yao said weakly.
"Then, I shall accept my punishment," Arthur said with a level tone.
"That means you cannot see the King again."
Arthur looked as if he had been struck in the gut at hearing the news. Quickly, he composed himself. Yao was reminded of how he looked shortly before he said he would let go of Alfred if it meant his happiness. Where did he get such strength? "Then…so be it. I am man of honor, and if that is the law…then…"
Yao looked around, waiting for someone to oppose him. No one did. They all looked uncomfortable or pained to let this continue. Yao looked to the door, anticipating Alfred to appear. It seemed he hadn't done an adequate job despite everything Yao had provided him. Time was up.
"Then…Duke of Blue, Arthur Kirkland, you are-"
The doors then burst open in too dramatic a fashion. King Alfred strode in looking weary, but years older than he actually was. He carried in his arms a small stack of books and scrolls. Parliament stood suddenly in unison. Alfred paid them no attention. He stopped next to Arthur, glaring at the soldier.
"He is guilty of breaking the law," the soldier said with a devious smile.
"Release him now. As your King I demand it." The soldier did as he was told. Alfred took Arthur's hand with his free hand, and then confronted Yao. "This man is innocent of all charges."
"But he did not seek-"
"Then I request it now!" Alfred interjected loudly.
A Lord called out, "But he is not of royal blood!"
At this, Alfred smiled confidently. "Yes he is." Parliament grew excited, and a few were even angry. Yao continued to stare at him. "I have proof."
"Show us!" someone yelled.
Alfred slammed the large books and scrolls he was carrying onto the podium. Their bang echoed in the room, bringing the Lords and Ladies to a lull. Yao sighed sadly. He knew what was to come. Feeling the oncoming defeat, he took a seat.
"These are the two volumes about the Thirteenth Reign, where my ancestor, who I was named after, came to power. History focuses on his success at starting the Number Equalizing movement, creating the Four Kingdoms Treaty that is still in effect today, and creating the Spades Empire. However, history tends to hide the fact his Queen did a lot of work too. His Queen named Arthur James Kirkland."
Yao closed his eyes. Good-bye forever, Alfred.
Alfred felt strong, powerful, and like a man reborn. Here he finally had a chance to make a difference. He was all too happy to be helping his beloved, and to show the world that he could stand up for what he believed in. And maybe, just maybe, he could put an end to the debate about his bachelorhood. Arthur had agreed to be his Queen. Hopefully that wasn't an agreement just to humor him.
"The Arthur Kirkland from this era is related to the Arthur Kirkland from the Thirteen Reignth, just as I am related to Alfred Jones I," Alfred started. "Back then, the royals were chosen as a means of Counting, where this magic clock dictated who would be King, Queen, and Jack. During their reign, though, the clock was broken, thereby making the Counting no longer an option to choose royalty. Also, before then, no King and Queen of Spades had ever married. But Alfred and Arthur fell in love and did marry.
"Shortly after the creation of the Four Kingdoms Treaty, the couple took on a surrogate mother to birth their children; a son from Alfred and a daughter from Arthur. The song would eventually go on to become King Samuel the First, while the daughter, Princess Alice, would become the Queen of Clubs. The Kirkland line continued through Alice's offspring, despite not having the same surname. However, eventually one of her descendants would marry a distant cousin in the Kirkland family. The proof is in this scroll that contains the missing pages from the Kirkland genealogy.
"Finally, there is an old portrait to show the resemblance between the two Arthur's." He looked at the small servant to his left. "Fetch me the portrait outside."
The servant left his side with the same smile as the soldier. He returned shortly holding the large portrait. He set it down beside Arthur, and then pulled off the large blanket covering the front. The picture showed a man that had a striking resemblance to Alfred standing in the front holding a Spades shaped golden clock. A man that looked identical to Yao knelt in front with a long sword at his feet. Arthur was shocked as he looked at the mirror image of himself that was Queen Arthur standing to Alfred's right. In his arms was a large, golden clock; possibly the magic clock Alfred mentioned.
All of Parliament began to loudly discuss amongst themselves. Arthur stared at Alfred in awe. The King simply beamed back. He felt confident that he had won now. There was nothing that anyone could do now. Alfred had won.
"E-excuse me, but... magic clock?" a Lady asked skeptically.
Alfred frowned. "Yes. It's possibly still in our Treasury. But that's beside the point."
"It is exactly the point."
"And, there is still the matter of Kirkland's crime."
"But...I asked for permission just now," Alfred tried.
"We know you two have been intimate already." Alfred's heart fell slightly. "His punishment is that he cannot see you again."
"But I've asked him to be my Queen, and..."
"And it would bring even more problems to the country! Duke Kirkland cannot possibly mother us an heir!"
Alfred worried his lower lip. He knew walking in that it wouldn't be easy to persuade Parliament, but he figured things would start to go his way once he showed the evidence and presented his carefully crafted speech. There was one more thing he could say, but it would be a risky move. Given that members doubted the magic clock, he had a feeling that they'd be even more suspicious of something called a Time Lock.
"Uh... I have one more thing to explain," Alfred started. He sounded a lot less powerful than when he first walked in. "In the Book of Hoyle Volume 2, the King is said to have an ability to do something called Time Lock."
"How ridiculous! Magic? Time travel!? What nonsense!" members scoffed.
"I-it's not time travel," Alfred said. "It is used when the King feels either he or the Queen is in danger. It places the one affected out of their time, keeping them safe, until the King Unlocks the Time Lock. Um and it..." Alfred grabbed one of the large books. He opened to a page he had dog eared. "It says here it also works as a means to eventually reunite the King and Queen."
"This is absurd!"
"This was written down by the Jack of Spades of the Thirteenth Reign, Yao Wang," Alfred shot back crossly. He was losing his patience quickly with this argument. To him, it should've been over already. "Back then, magic was real and alive. Technology had just been born, and hadn't taken over like it has now. The King was even known to have super strength."
"Then why don't you have it?"
"Because it was a power that came to him by way of the First Queen of Spades, from where the magic clock came from."
"This all seems too farfetched." Parliament steadily grew angrier the longer Alfred explained.
Alfred was deflating under the pressure, and quickly running out of ways to defend himself and Arthur. Briefly, he imagined the horrible idea of Arthur being forced away from him. The thought of failing something as important as this scared Alfred. Then, he felt Arthur squeeze his hand reassuringly. He looked to the Duke and saw those green eyes giving him strength once more.
"I think the point our King is trying to make is that the past wanted to reunite in the future-our present," Arthur said. "And if his argument doesn't prove that this is not forced and that he is working to save me out of love, then I don't know what will."
Alfred squeezed Arthur's hand. Then, he looked back up at Parliament. His eyes met Yao's. The Jack had been uncharacteristically quiet this entire time. His face was ashen and his shoulders were drooped as if he were drained of life. However, he didn't seem angry or even the slightest bit upset. Alfred couldn't figure out what kind of expression he was making, or if he was even making one at all. Still, it was strange to see such a blank look on the man Alfred had known his entire life.
Alfred started to feel guilt pool in his stomach. He had gone behind Yao, lied to him about his relationship with Arthur, and had defied him multiple times in the past months. Yao was the only man who had remained with him all these years. He held him when Alfred cried over the loss of his parents, practically raised him and cared for his well being, and protected him from all the harm the world tried to pull him down into. And Alfred had repaid him by going against him. It was no wonder Yao looked completely defeated now. Hadn't Alfred looked that same way for the majority of his life?
"He's right!" the soldier to Alfred's right piped up. "Magic clocks, super strength, and Time Locks all do exist! Or, at least, they did. Well, the Time Lock could still be in effect. Alfred has to say the spell to Unlock it."
"Soldier! You are out of line!" a guard near the door boomed.
"Oh, I would be if..." Then, the soldier pulled off his hat to reveal brilliant white hair and goat ears. "I was a soldier."
The guards surged to apprehend the strange man, but he vanished in a whirlwind of smoke. Parliament members screamed in surprise and fear. Instinctively, Alfred pulled Arthur close to him protectively. The guards looked around for the man and shouted orders to search the Clock Room for him, when suddenly he reappeared in thin air, hovering just before the Jack.
"Your Honor, may I approach the bench?" He did a sweeping bow to the Jack. Yao stared at him, unafraid.
"Yao!" Alfred shouted in alarm.
"Get down from there!" the guards shouted, aiming their weapons up at the man. "We will use force if necessary!"
"Aw, but Yao here is my good friend. Aint'cha, Sire?"
Everyone looked at Yao, but the man remained stoic. Then, the servant walked up the air towards Yao. A long, thin, black tail with a spades tip flicked out from the man's behind, wrapping around his leg. Parliament and the guards started at the sight.
"We told the Jack about the books," the man said. He pulled off his own hat, revealing a very young face like that of a boy.
"We told him about the Duke," the other man continued. "And we were the ones to pull out the pages of the genealogy."
"What are you?!" Alfred demanded.
The two men bowed. "Jokers! At your service, Your Majesty!"
The word meant nothing to anyone else, but Alfred. His mouth went slack as he stared at them with wide eyes. Then, he whispered, "The Jokers...? Like the ones...from back then...? But how? After all this time... You're both still alive? Gilbert and Peter..."
"Seems like the curse didn't wear off after all, huh?" the silver haired Joker said with a wide smile. "So, we just got used to it."
"Decided to keep an eye on the Families," the younger Joker said as he did a somersault in the air. He moved a little too close to Parliament, and effectively startled them. Some began to evacuate their seats.
"Then why did you tell Yao and rip out the pages?" Arthur asked.
"Alfred, er, the past one, not this one, didn't perform the Time Lock," the smaller Joker started.
"He just asked us to see that true love always blossoms between King and Queen in Spades," the other finished.
"And we have! This is still a monarchy built on love! We made sure your parents met and fell in love."
"It just so happened that it was you two look alikes!"
"There was no planning involved."
"None at all."
The two Jokers smiled proudly as they revealed their handiwork. Alfred, however, was shocked to learn that two strange men had been the cause for his parent's marriage, and in a strange way, his and his brother's birth.
"But…then why tear out the pages?" Arthur asked when Alfred remained quiet.
The Jokers grinned widely, stretching their cheeks to the fullest. Together, they sang, "There must always be a test of love!"
"So…all of this…" Arthur trailed off as he absorbed everything.
"But…Yao…" Alfred looked at him sadly. The Jack didn't make eye contact with him. "Why did you…?"
Yao didn't answer. He looked away with downcast eyes.
"Hey, we just told him who you were and all that jazz, but it doesn't mean he has to do anything to help out," one of the Jokers said.
Alfred felt pain cripple his heart. The cavity in his chest felt ready to collapse inwards, until it crushed all of his heart and soul. He stared at Yao feeling all of the things he wanted to say to him, but unable to do. There was guilt and remorse and anger and love and betrayal swarming around inside of him. It was a wonder his body didn't just melt from the intense heat of the thoughts storming through-out his entire body.
Instead of yelling or crying, he simply asked, "Why?"
Yao stood. His shoulders arched his body forwards as they hung heavily with guilt. "I didn't want to lose you…"
"Yao… It's not like I was going to up and move out. Didn't you notice that the closer I got to Arthur, the closer I got to you too? We finally had our meals together and you chatted with me like we were friends again, and you even asked for my input on a few political things." At this, Yao lifted his head. "I don't hate you. I'm angry, yeah, but…dude… I just wanted you to treat me like an adult and actually listen to me. You do so much here. When can I help you? When can I be the one to comfort you when you're upset or let you have a day off for a vacation?
"Arthur isn't someone to fear, either. I've learned a lot from the both of you on how to be more mature and work in the government. You're always pushing me to be stronger, well so is Arthur. He isn't your enemy. He wants to help make our country strong, and he has so many smart ideas. We can all work together."
"Yeah, like checks and balances or something like that!" the smaller Joker chimed in.
"Yao, please…," Alfred pleaded.
Yao looked at Alfred with an unreadable expression. Then, he opened his mouth.
It would be a month before things began to settle down again. Parliament, with King Alfred, made an announcement to Spades that shocked the entire country. It spread to the rest of Hoyle like wildfire, and the other royals called to hear the news directly from the King's mouth. The story was always the same: Jokers were alive, Arthur was royalty, and Yao had taken a sudden leave of absence. In his stead, Alfred was finally allowed to rule the country.
With the Jokers becoming public knowledge, the story of the Thirteenth and First Reign became a very popular topic in schools and in conversation. Romantic stories were written up about it, and interviews were called for the Jokers and Alfred and Arthur. But Alfred could not meet with anyone for any interviews.
He had dove headfirst into his new responsibilities. His first plan of action was to instantly put it to a vote with the country if the monarchy should remain, or if it should be a constitutional democracy. If it did remain a monarchy, little would change in the country, but the idea of coming into power by birth right in the upper classes might vanish. However, Alfred was fairly certain the country would vote for a constitutional democracy.
In one fell swoop, he'd lose his status as a King. He'd be the very last King of Spades.
This would also dissolve the title of Jack. Word that the Wang line would no longer inherit the Jack position didn't sit well with the majority of the country. Many preferred to keep it as it provided less opportunity for corruption in the government as Wang was a trusted name in nearly every household.
Alfred worked even harder during the first month of his true rule to negotiate with Parliament what would go up for vote and what wouldn't. All the while, Arthur was by his side.
The country took to the romance quite well, with many embracing Arthur as if he already were the Queen. Despite his still low Duke title, he was admitted in to Parliament meetings and gave his opinions on matters, though he still held no vote. He was, also, not allowed to sit in the Queen's booth no matter how much Alfred protested. There were just some traditions that would not be destroyed, at least not yet.
"Does it bother you?" Arthur asked Alfred as they sat outside under the tree in the secret garden where they had made love many times before. He stroked Alfred's hair as the King lay in his lap. "To be the last King of Spades…"
"As long as I can be with you, I really don't care," Alfred said dreamily. His eyes were closed as he enjoyed Arthur's fingers carding through his hair.
"So…then you were serious…" Arthur stopped his hand.
Alfred opened his eyes. He focused on Arthur who stared nervously at him. "I was, and still am. Were you?"
Arthur searched Alfred's eyes. They had both lost loved ones, were discarded by seemingly everyone, and they were to meet. They were supposed to fall in love. Arthur never truly believed in destiny, although he was certainly suspicious of coincidences. Thinking that it was fate, or that the Jokers had planned the entire thing, had kept him up late at night. However, Alfred didn't seem bothered by it at all. He still had a whimsical attitude about everything, and only found that as another reason for them to be together.
That made it easier for Arthur to love him. He smiled gently. "Yes."
Alfred and Arthur saw Yao as he walked down the corridor. Arthur watched Alfred to see how he'd react. They hadn't seen Yao in months. The man had taken a long and well deserved vacation back in his home town with his family. There had been minimal contact between him and the King.
Yao saw them, and approached casually. He bowed to Alfred, and then to Arthur. "Your Majesties."
Arthur blushed. "I am not the Queen yet. There is no need."
Yao smiled slightly. "Ah, but it is never a bad idea to practice early." Then, Yao looked at Alfred. His expression remained the same, although there was a flicker of something behind his eyes. "Alfred… Tell me, how did my ancestor live?"
Alfred studied Yao carefully. The man didn't seem all that different. And the pain was still very fresh in Alfred's chest, especially at seeing Yao again. Still, he knew that things had to change. Already, the ball was rolling in the country. If he wanted to keep as many people around him as possible, he had to start somewhere.
"Yao was a very loved member of the royal family," Alfred started. "The King and Queen looked after him like a family member, and even made him the God parent to their children. He had a very long and prosperous life, but never married though he was involved in quite an affair with someone. He…died before the King and Queen. The entire kingdom mourned the loss. He was written down in history…as one of the greatest Jacks to have ever lived in Spades."
Yao nodded and smiled. "That is quite lovely. I am happy for my ancestor."
Arthur held out a hand to Yao. He smiled with no sign of a grudge or hesitation. Yao looked at it. They didn't say anything. They didn't have to.
This was meant to be, just as it had been all those years ago. Perhaps King Alfred really had performed the Time Lock, and this was the way to Unlock it.
And time would keep turning.
Hoshiko2's cents: Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this and Hoyle. It was quite a long journey, and I thank everyone who read this, and especially those of you kind enough to leave me reviews. Sadly, this will be my last series. I will finish up A is For… and then upload three more one-shots (one being the last entry for Sweethearts Week), and then I am done.